by Melinda Gallo

Living in Florence :: Leaving Krabi

After being in Krabi for almost two weeks, I began to get used to going to the beach, seeing the water, going on excursions, eating Thai food, and walking around the streets of this seaside town. It wasn't until last Saturday that I truly missed Florence. I was changing the memory card in my camera and saw a film that I took of the scoppio del carro (explosion of the cart) on Easter Sunday in front of the Duomo. Suddenly, I felt a pang in my heart and missed Florence so much that I couldn't wait to get back. I was thinking about how I wanted to see the buildings, the streets, the people, the monuments, and the churches.

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Living in Florence :: Poda Island

For our last day at the beach before we head back to Florence, we decided to go to Poda Island, which is opposite the Ao Nang beach. We had stopped there to drop off people when we went to Chicken Island and we thought it was an interesting island to stay on for the day. We got on the long-tail boat to Poda Island with a few other people and we crossed the water. It was another warm and sunny day, and we couldn't wait to sit on the beach and enjoy the water.

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Living in Florence :: Similan Islands

The one trip that Alessandro wanted more than any other during our stay in Ao Nang, Krabi was going to Similan Island. He had been there before and raved to me how amazing it was. He said the islands were surrounded by clear water and had white sandy beaches. And, most of all, he told me how peaceful and amazingly beautiful the islands were.

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After our hike up the Tiger Cave temple mountain, we were looking forward to a day at the beach. We paid for our roundtrip tickets to take a long-tail boat to Railay beach. We chose this beach because it was close and we knew that there were a few shops and restaurants that we could visit.

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Living in Florence :: Hiking the stairs up Tiger Cave Temple Mountain

At 8 a.m. we were standing outside of our hotel and a van drove up to take us on our next day trip. We wanted to ride an elephant, per my sister's suggestion, and visit some more of the local sites. We chose one company for today's tour, but the woman at the tour agency suggested we choose a different one after she offered us a discount. Each of the tour companies offered to allow us to visit the same sites, so we selected the one she asked us to consider.

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Living in Florence :: Chicken Island

We took a long-tail boat to Chicken Island, which is off the coast of Ao Nang beach today. When we were in front of the woman at the ticket booth about how to get to the island that is across the beach from us, she pointed to the photos of the various islands and beaches around. We chose Chicken Island because we saw that there was a short distance between that island and Tup Island and we were told we could visit both of them.

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Living in Florence :: James Bond tour

With the numerous tours available, we had to browse many brochures to see what was available and to see what interested us the most. There is something for everyone, like kayaking, canoeing, snorkeling, visiting islands, elephant riding, and cooking. For today, we chose the James Bond tour, which offered a variety of different visits in the itinerary including a visit to Kao Tapoo, which is called James Bond Island because "The Man with the Golden Gun" was filmed there.

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The one thing that I've had a hard time to get used to is bargaining. I read that no matter what price they tell you, you should only pay about 25% of that. I went into a shop to look at a sun dress and I asked the woman how much it was. She picked up a calculator and punched in "300." To pay six Euros for a sun dress isn't that much, but I assumed that if I'm supposed to only pay 75 bhat (about 1.50 Euro), I should try to bargain a little bit.

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Living in Florence :: Eating food from the stands

All up and down the main street that takes us from our hotel to the beach and then along the beach, there are stands that make and sell food. These stands are attached to scooters that they use to transport the stand in and out of its parked location on the street.

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Before leaving for Thailand I talked to my sister who had been there before many years ago. She said that I should do two things while in Thailand: get a Thai massage and ride an elephant. On our first evening in Thailand last Wednesday, we decided that we deserved a massage after our long flight.

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Living in Florence :: Phi Phi Islands tour

Last night when we were out for our after-dinner stroll, we stopped off at one of the many tour agencies to book something for today. We chose a Phi Phi Islands tour so we could visit a few of the islands and go snorkeling. A driver of an air-conditioned van arrived a few minutes before 8:30 a.m. this morning at our hotel to pick us up. We brought a zaino (backpack) with our sunscreen and change of clothes and were taken to a few other hotels to pick up some more passengers.

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Living in Florence :: Railay beach

We decided to go to Railay beach, which is the second beach south of Ao Nang, today by long-tail boat. The beach in Ao Nang is nice, but we wanted to visit a nearby beach. We walked to the ticket booth and bought two roundtrip tickets for Railay beach. The cost per person was 160 bhat, which is a little more than 3 Euros.

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Living in Florence :: From Florence to Krabi

At 7 a.m. when we left our apartment to catch a train to Rome, the temperature was 2C (36F). And after a ten-hour flight, we arrived in Bangkok where the temperature at 6 a.m. was already 33C (92F). I was surprised by how modern, immense, and clean the Bangkok airport was especially after leaving Fiumicino airport in Rome. Before leaving Italy, we had a hard time finding anything to eat and settled on an autogrill (roadside cafe) inside the airport.

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I have been so excited about my first trip to Thailand that I haven't been able to contain myself these past few weeks. Alessandro and I are going on our luna di miele (honeymoon) today for two weeks. I'm even happier to be going toward the warm weather because the last few weeks have been cold and wet. I know that I will miss my beloved city, which is why I was so eager to snap a few photos yesterday, but I am looking forward to discover an entirely different place.

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Living in Florence :: Florence at dusk

After too many days without much sunshine, I was happy when I saw the sun break through the clouds early this evening while I was working on my computer. We had some nevischio (sleet) and pioggia (rain) most of the day. Even though the temperatures are low enough for it to snow in Florence, I bundled myself up, grabbed my camera, and headed out the door.

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